Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy weekend, everyone! I hope you’ve been enjoying some restful time and sunny weather. I’ve had a busy weekend so far; last night, I had the honor of teaching a vegan cooking class at Haven’s Kitchen here in New York.



It’s a beautiful space, and it allows for cooking classes of intimate groups (my class had ten students). We got to know each other, cooked five recipes from Food52 Vegan, and then sat down to a late dinner, so that we could enjoy the recipes we’d made. It was so awesome, and I hope I can do another one soon!

Since then, I’ve been catching up on my reading for school and client work. And taking a few moments here and there to gaze at these awesome recipes (and reads).


This vegan buffalo cauliflower chowder looks positively delicious: so hearty and flavorful! It’ll be a perfect recipe to whip up this fall (along with the tasty herbed crostini).


A perfect late summer recipe: Shira’s droolworthy cheesy vegan pasta with rosemary and blistered tomatoes.

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Feeling snacky? How about some homemade, no-bake granola bars, kissed with a layer of dark chocolate? This recipe, from the lovely Tessa of Salted Plains, is easy, and it occupies a delightful territory between snack and sweet treat.


Capture the last of your summer zucchini bounty with Shelburne Farms’ ingenious recipe for zucchini relish (courtesy of Food52).


This dessert merits a photo double-header. It’s a gorgeous, easy, and decadent chocolate tart, vegan and gluten free and topped with some flakes of sea salt. Be still my heart. I’m making this soon.


1. One of my three courses this semester, nutritional ecology, focuses heavily on climate change. We’ve been doing a lot of predictably grim reading, and the weekly assignments tend to leave most of us feeling a bit deflated.

This article by Jonathan Chait provides an important, hopeful counterpoint to what I’ve been learning in the class. Chait is not impervious to the sense of cynicism and despair that can develop around this topic, and I love the way he highlights some good news–news worth acknowledging and celebrating.

2. On the same topic, I hadn’t read Pope Francis’ remarkable Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home until I took this class. It is amazingly prescient, and it seems bolder than many of the statements that world leaders have made about the fate of our planet. I very much enjoy Bill McKibben’s thoughts on the Pope’s plea, too.

3. Thyroid cancer is known for being one of the more treatable cancers, with high rates of remission. Even so, the diagnosis and treatment can be difficult–perhaps more so because thyroid cancer is sometimes labeled “the good cancer.” According to one Mayo Clinic physician, “this dichotomy often makes them feel that they’re not entitled to complain or even feel bad.”

This Washington Post article, written by a woman whose mother has had thyroid cancer, aims to shed light on how thyroid cancer can still be a challenging condition to face and treat.

4. Some of you may seen that, this week, McDonald’s announced that it will stop using eggs from caged hens in the U.S. and Canada. It’s not the first fast-food chain to take this stance, but it may be the most major, using 2 billion eggs yearly.

Peter Singer weighs in on the news in this op-ed. I always feel mixed things when I read this kind of news, because the victory for animals (a stance against cages) is interspersed with reminders of how many animals remain captive, commodified, and in pain. As Singer notes, we are still so far from meaningful recognition of animal rights. But if these kinds of statements from corporations can engender any changes or improvements in day-to-day life for animals, then I think it’s still important to talk about them.

5. Finally, an article that really hit home for me, called “The Myth of the Before-and-After Photo.” The author, whose weight has changed throughout her struggle with disordered eating and recovery, notes that simple before and after shots would never speak to her experience, because fluctuations have been regular and ongoing. The essay is really a plea for us all to acknowledge that the human body is always in motion, shifting around to accommodate new life circumstances or events. It is a living being, not a commodity for us to control and monitor.

As you might imagine, given my ED story, I have weighed many different numbers. As tempting as it is to be always on a quest for a “happy weight” or a “natural weight,” what I’ve come to realize is that the truly natural thing is for my body to be in flux. It is a dynamic entity, and it will not always look the same, feel the same, weigh the same, or be the same.It’s not always easy to accept this, given my penchant for control, but it is the most respectful way to acknowledge my body’s needs and autonomy.

Of course major fluctuations in weight can be a sign of trouble, an indication that disordered eating cycles are underway, or an indication of illness or emotional distress. It’s healthy to acknowledge and address these kinds of changes. But it’s not healthy to try to pin the body down to a single weight for life.

If I were to flip through old photos, I’d see a lot of images, and none of them are really “before” or “after.” They’re part of an ongoing story, a narrative in which I hope I’m learning to love my body more profoundly and treat it better each and every day. I try to no longer see my body at different shapes and think “this was a good weight, this was a bad weight.” Rather, I ask, how was this shape connected to my life at the time? Digging a little deeper like this has the effect of preventing me from glamorizing my underweight photos (because I remember how lonely I was, how much I was struggling). It also helps me to resist passing judgment on the photos in which I weighed more. And in the moments when I’m tempted to look at ED photos with shame, it reminds me that I was struggling with an illness, and it invites me to forgive and accept where I was a the time.

On that note, friends, Happy Sunday. I’ll be back tomorrow with another weekly menu plan — hope you’ll tune in!


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